Review By Dean Bielanowski  Ryobi Website -


Ryobi CID1823VK/
18v Industrial Cordless Hammer Drill/Driver


By Dean Bielanowski

One of the more common power tools found in homes and workshops is the drill. Whether it be corded, or cordless, this power tool has almost become a necessity in modern day living, particularly for home owners to maintain their homes. Gone are the days of the faithful hand-powered drill. These days electricity rules the roost, but you don't need to be dragging a power cord around to utilize it.

The cordless power drill is a tool most woodworkers cannot do without. It greatly increases productivity and can create cleaner holes and drive screws faster than by hand. Buying a good cordless drill means you can meet almost any challenge you throw at it, and after you have used some budget cordless drills you will invariably end up with a better model later on, as the difference in performance is quite large.

Today we are reviewing Ryobi's flagship cordless drill - the CID1823VK (model CDI-1803 in the UK). It is by far their biggest and most powerful cordless drill to date, and a part of Ryobi's Professional Series line of industrial quality tools. So without further ado...

Packaging and Contents
The CID1823VK ships in a molded grey plastic carry case and includes the following components and accessories:

  • 1 x CID1823VK cordless drill

  • 2 x 2.0Ah NiCad rechargeable batteries

  • 1 x 18v fast charger

  • 1 x metal depth setting rod

  • 1 x adjustable drill handle/support

  • 1 x printed product manual

The brief manual is printed in black and white and contains pretty much all the information you will need to know about operating the drill. To me the most important information is the battery charging information, as most other functions of the drill should be straight forward assuming you have owned a power drill previously. Take special note of the battering charging instructions as this can greatly affect the performance of the battery and its expected life.

Build Quality, Fit and Finish
The first thing you will probably notice about the CID1823VK before you even flip a switch or pull the trigger is the tool's weight. Weighing in at 2.95kg (6.5 lbs) it is probably one of the heaviest 18v cordless drills going around. I often correlate weight of a tool to its build quality. If it weighs more, it is usually built better with higher quality components. While this is not always the case, it does seem true with the CID1823VK drill. Apart from the durable plastic outer casing shell, the CID1823VK's primary components are metal construction. This is where the weight is contained. The drill is very serviceable, i.e. you could easily access any section of the drill by unscrewing a few screws to remove the outer cover. All accessories fit perfectly well and the drill even looks a little classy (if that matters to you?). If you used this drill every day, you would probably negate the need for bench curl exercises at the gym. It is built very solidly and feels so in use.

The CID1823VK features an 18v DC-powered, 3 speed all-metal gearbox. The 3 speed gearbox offers a very large range of operating speeds along with the variable speed drill trigger. Essentially, you could run the drill at any speed between 0 and 2,200 RPM. The speed selection switch is located on the top of the drill and is a sliding switch mechanism with, naturally, three positions marked as "1", "2", and "3" respectively. The number 1 speed provides the lowest RPM range from 0 - 370 RPM. This setting is generally used for slow speed operations such as screw driving, or perhaps drilling into plastics or other heat-sensitive materials. I tend to use this setting for screw driving exclusively.
Setting 2 offers speed ranges from 0 - 750 RPM. This setting might be used for larger diameter drill bits, such as spade bits, larger auger bits or even some hole saw bits.
Setting 3 provides the high speed RPM from 0 - 2,200 RPM. This setting will be used with the majority of smaller diameter drill bits, as these need a faster speed to cut more effectively. Interestingly, the max speed of 2,200 RPM is quite high for a cordless drill. Many cordless drills won't exceed 1,200 RPM, with some reaching up to 1,500 RPM. Only a few cordless drills extend over the 2,000 RPM barrier. Again, you can control the speed using the variable speed trigger so achieving a rough RPM of say 1,600 is certainly possible if your task requires this speed. The wide RPM range on this drill is certainly a useful feature.

As mentioned above the trigger provides variable speed capabilities to the drill. The further it is pushed in, the faster the drill chuck will rotate, i.e. the faster the drilling speed. Above the trigger is a somewhat standard three-position rotation direction selector switch. Pushed through to the left, the chuck will rotate clockwise for normal drilling. The center position locks the trigger so that it cannot be used (good for keeping the kids safe). The manual also does state that you should lock the trigger when changing batteries as well. When the direction selector is pushed to the right, the drill chuck rotates anti-clockwise. This setting is primarily used for removing screws, but is also useful to clear out a drilled hole of debris without drilling any deeper.

In the way of rubber over-molds, there is only one on the CID1823VK, and that is located on the rear of the handle.

On the base of the tool just above the battery are two friction-held bit holders. Ryobi provide a couple of standard flat head and philips-type bits with the drill, but any aftermarket bits will fit as well. It keeps the most common bits handy to the user and you can just pull them out to use, or clip them in when finished. Many cordless drills have a similar bit holding device. You can attach a holding cord to the rear of the handle at the base to hang the drill on a hook on your tool belt, but no cord was included with the kit.

An auxiliary handle is included with the drill, and comes pre-attached in the kit. It sits just behind the clutch setting ring and can be positioned through 360 degrees to suit the task at hand. Given the weight of the tool I find the handle is very helpful in providing support to the tool. For any extended operations you will want to use both hands to hold and control the drill because of its weight. The handle part rotates to tighten or loosen the grip ring over the drill. The auxiliary handle also provides the holding point for the drills depth gauge rod. This rod, which is also solid metal, allows you to set the tool up to drill to a pre-defined depth in the material. It has a rack-type pattern milled into one side to key and lock into the gauge hole on the auxiliary handle. It can be a little difficult to adjust and push/pull through at times though. The depth gauge rod has incrementally etched markings to provide some form of measurement feature when changing depth setting, but the scale is not numbered. Like most hammer drills the depth adjustment rod is a crude, but somewhat effective way of drilling holes to a consistent depth, and can save the need to mask/mark your drill bit or use a depth-stop collar.

The clutch setting ring features 24 clutch positions, the 24th position also enabling the drill's hammer action. There is a very positive and firm click between each setting, so it won't move or vibrate off the setting in use. The clutch setting controls the drills torque and is an extremely useful feature on any power drill. Using a low clutch setting makes it difficult to over-drive screws into wood. Using a larger clutch setting will provide more torque for tough drilling tasks. The CID1823VK can deliver a very respectable torque rating of 55Nm, so it will handle most general drilling tasks with ease. Setting the hammer action results in the drill "hammering" while it rotates to drill. These pulsing blows are used mostly for masonry drilling applications. The number of blows per minute is related to the drill speed setting selected. At the highest drill speed, the CID1823VK can deliver over 35,000 blows per minute.

The drill chuck is all-metal construction and keyless design. It is a 13mm chuck, so it can take those larger bits the 10mm chucks cannot hold. A great feature of this chuck is that it also includes a ratcheting action to avoid over-tightening a drill bit. Even with only light pressure applied to the bit in the chuck, there was no evidence of drill bit slippage using full-round shank bits. This may change over time however as the chuck wears, and perhaps require a little more pressure on the bit but no problems at all so far.

Batteries and Charger
The CID1823VK comes with 2 x 18v rechargeable batteries rated at 2.0Ah. Ryobi use quality Panasonic NiCad cells in their Professional Series range of tools, and these cells deliver excellent power and good life. While the top of the line cordless drills costing twice as much now use NiMH batteries, NiCads are still very popular and do perform quite well in cordless tools. NiCads do have problems with memory effect, as does NiMH, so care must be taken to fully deplete batteries before recharging them i.e. don't recharge a battery if it is only half full. Ryobi make this a little easier to avoid by including two batteries in the kit. Also, the batteries are interchangeable with some other 18v cordless tools in the Professional Series range, so that widens your options a little more. I now have three 18v tools from the Pro Series and four 18v batteries. I tend to use only two of the four batteries for all the tools, and once these run their course (I expect several years life out of them with moderate to heavy use) I have two "new" and fresh replacement batteries ready to take over. Considering that batteries take several cycles of charging and depleting before they attain full power capacity, it will take a few weeks before the battery is 'primed' for maximum capacity.

During our test period of five weeks, we only needed two fully charged batteries to see us through. While we didn't use the drill every day, it was more than several times a week and for tasks requiring use for a couple hours of intermittent use each time. It's hard to say exactly how much actual use (in hours) the drill was used, but the battery life seems to last at least 2-3 times as much as your standard budget cordless drill battery, and at the same time delivering much more power. Battery life seems consistent and on par with other high-end cordless drills I have used in the past that also utilize NiCad cells. I was quite pleased with the results, also taking into account we have had some of the hottest days here recently (close to 40 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees farenheit). These high temperatures will quicken the rate of battery depletion.
*We will update the review in six months time to report further on battery life and condition.

Like most cordless drills, once the battery nears its depleted state, the drill slowly winds down and delivers less power and torque until it no longer becomes useful. This means it's time for a recharge! Some will argue that fully depleting the battery by taping the trigger on and leaving it for a few hours is the best way to get maximum cell capacity on recharge. I have read conflicting stories on this. Usually, once the battery can no longer spin the chuck, that is depleted enough for me and its time for a recharge. I can recall reading somewhere, and I apologize that I cannot recall the exact source, but it was from a well-known battery manufacturer that such taping of the trigger is not really needed and a full charge can be attained if there is still a very small amount of residual charge in the battery. But, whatever you choose to do is up to you.

Now on to the charger... An 18v charger is included in the package and it claims to charge a dead battery in 1 hour. In reality it seems to take at least 1.5 hours for me, and closer to 2 hours on the first initial charge out of the box, but I did notice that the subsequent charge cycles were faster, so perhaps after more than a few cycles the recharge time does come down closer to the one hour mark. The charger has three indicator lights to show the current status of the charge cycle. Red means the battery is being charged. Green means the battery is fully charged, and orange either indicates the charger is checking the battery initially for its current charge capacity, or that there is a problem with the battery, and it cannot take a charge. Usually, both the orange and green lights will come on for a few minutes when the battery first starts the charge cycle, but then it switches to the red light for the remainder of the charge, until fully charged when it switches back to green again. The battery can only fit in the charger one way, so you cannot put it in backwards.

With two batteries included, one can be charging while the second is in use so there is little or no downtime. Or you can charge up both to take to the worksite or use in the workshop for the day and recharge them when you get home, although, I think even just one battery would last a whole day unless you were constantly subjecting it to high torque or masonry hammer drilling. For general fit outs or semi-regular drilling or screwing jobs over the course of one day, I think you would find a full battery would certainly keep you powered up without any problems. Given that the batteries can be recharged anywhere from 500-1000 times (depending on environmental conditions and use etc), you should get at least 2 years out of one battery if you were using a daily depletion/recharging cycle.

The battery attaches to the bottom of the drill with two spring-loaded plastic clips (one on each side). It is a very firm hold and no batteries were harmed during testing of this product.. i.e. they didn't fall off :)

This is Ryobi's most expensive cordless drill, costing AUD$379. At this price I expect a tool to be well built and perform to a high standard. With increased price comes increased expectations. For the money I believe you do get the features with the drill that justify the price tag. These are; continuous power and plenty of torque to tackle tasks that might otherwise require a corded power drill; a wide variety of clutch settings (including a hammer action); an easy to use, tool-less chuck (the ratcheting chuck on this drill is really nice); two batteries plus a solid charger; a variety of user-selectable speeds, and a reasonable level of user comfort.

Due to the heavy weight of the drill extended use in high positions will cause some user fatigue. This is a heavy drill, but it is heavy for a reason. It is designed to tackle heavy industrial/trade drilling and driving tasks. I have no problem with the weight. If someone comes out with a drill of equal power, with mostly all-metal construction but at only half the weight, and at the same price, I'd jump on it, but at present there is no other drill with those attributes and similar price tag that I can find. I think the icing on the cake would have been the inclusion of NiMH batteries, but I'd then expect to be paying at least $500 for a drill with those. Most high-quality drills with NiMH batteries now cost close to, or over $600 so at $379, the Ryobi CID1823VK is certainly worth consideration. This is no toy or budget-quality cordless drill. You are  certainly getting what you pay for, perhaps even more?

The CID1823VK is available in Australia through Gasweld stores, TotalTools, and can be ordered through Mitre 10 stores nationwide.

Available to Order Online through these companies...
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In the United Kingdom


Ryobi CID1823VK Photos
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The CID1823VK without auxiliary handle attached.

24 clutch settings are available to suit all types of drilling and driving tasks, including hammer action.

The all-metal 13mm (1/2") chuck has a very nice ratcheting action to avoid over-tightening drill bits.

Three speeds provide variable speed options from 0 - 2,200 RPM.

Standard three position drill rotation selector above trigger.

2 x 2.0Ah 18v batteries are included. There is also bit storage on each side of the base of the drill.

Plenty of power for drilling. Here we are using a 3/4" spade bit.

Have a masonry drilling task? Set the hammer action and away you go. Here we are drilling to mount some garden tool hooks.

The lowest speed is great for screw driving tasks. Here we are removing to plane it for a free swinging action. The drill's weight does cause a little user fatigue in extended overhead drilling tasks like these.

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Reproduction in any form prohibited with express prior written permission. Copyright 2005